The Coronavirus and Immigration
How is the Coronavirus going to affect you, and how is it changing the immigration processes and travel?
Rules constantly change, so you need to research updates. Here are some tips:
Travel from certain European countries is banned for one month. However, travel by U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents is still open. Travel from the U.K. or Ireland, as well as from many other countries and continents, is also still open. We recommend seeking out an alternative route to the U.S. if you must attend an interview or be physically present in the U.S. for whatever reason. However, circumventing the travel ban is illegal. The Trump administration has issued this statement:
“An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security”
If you have traveled in one of the Schengen countries, you must spend 14 days in a country where travel is not banned in order to enter the U.S. legally. Get in touch with your airline to seek an alternative route to the U.S. that complies with the law.
Is the USCIS still processing cases?
Yes, the USCIS is still processing cases amidst the Coronavirus.
Will the consulate(s) be open for scheduled interviews?
It is unknown whether the consulates will remain open. It, most likely, will depend on where the consulates are located, and what the status of the Coronavirus in that city looks like. For instance, most consulates in mainland China have closed temporarily due to staffing shortages, and will only respond in case of emergency. If your interview is canceled, you will be notified and it will be rescheduled. If you have an interview that is not canceled, it helps to try and attend the interview rather than skip it if you believe you can get there safely. Do not assume you can skip an interview that has been canceled. In some cases, consulate officers show up for work and they may also expect that the visa applicants will attend their interviews unless they announce that the consulate visa office is closed.
Immigration processing times
Yes, there are expected to be interruptions, delays, canceled interviews, etc. The Coronavirus is an ongoing pandemic. Everyone adjusts and so this affects how the U.S. government does business. Some departments may remain open, while other departments close or go short-staffed. The process for all cases will hit delays and snags unevenly. All cases are different. There is no way to know exactly how it will affect an individual case. Everything is in flux.
Can I still go to my Naturalization Oath Ceremony?
That depends on the location. The number of people at your oath ceremony will largely determine whether it is canceled, though it will not be unilateral. It will most likely depend on the number of attendees. Small towns have smaller ceremonies than cities. Certain states are banning gatherings based on size. So, if you are in a large city or town, it might result in a cancellation of the ceremony.
If you haven’t heard news about your oath ceremony, we recommend that you please take all necessary and suggested health precautions. You do not need to attend a ceremony to be sworn in; you can wait for another ceremony in a few months. For those who know Federal judges, you can have a private swearing-in with any Federal judge. Just please don’t shake hands.
What can I do to expedite the process?
During international times of turmoil, there is no such thing as expedited processing due to delays caused by the Coronavirus. This problem with delays applies equally to many people, so there is no way to expedite an individual case over another case in the same situation. We understand that it is causing an immense amount of concern. However, keep in mind that delays in processing are inevitable in times of international strife. Continue to follow our blog for up to date information.